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Lisburn Distillery skipper Pat McShane lifts the Co-operative Insurance Cup (Picture: William Cherry/PressEye.com)

LISBURN DISTILLERY - CO-OPERATIVE INSURANCE CUP WINNERS 2010/11

TOMMY Wright’s inspired substitutions Scott Davidson and David Cushley secured the Co-operative Insurance Cup for Lisburn Distillery for the first time in its 25 year history. Three outstanding goals and a consistently high quality of football made this a final to remember.

“Tactical genius or a lucky manager?” Wright asked after the match, “I don’t care which. Today is an absolutely unforgettable day for the club, the players, fans and all those who support us.”

But on paper and for the first half it looked like Portadown were the firm favourites. Matthew Tipton’s impeccable finish was the first half’s highlight, one of the classiest, well executed goals of the competition, rounding itself in off the far corner from a 20 yard strike.

The equaliser came when Davidson then ran onto the ball after Glenn Ferguson dropped it into his path and with his first touch of the game cracked it over a powerless David Miskelly.

But the most heart-stopping goal of the game was an applause-worthy finish from Cushley, erupting along the near side and with blistering pace and real accuracy escaped from Richard Clarke, and thundered it in with just a minute of normal time remaining.

“We are delighted, the second half was obviously much better for us,” Wright, who has now won his first senior trophy as manager, said. “I don’t know what it was during the first half because we have worked all week but we didn’t do our jobs in the first half but we were lucky to go in one nil and still be in the game at half time. It was a brave move to make the substitutions but I thought the legs of Davidson and Cushley would go on and make the difference and luckily they did.

“All three goals however were great goals for anyone watching this game. Cushley has worked really hard at his fitness and played regularly, he played his role excellently today.”

Neither Distillery nor Portadown sat back and afforded every minute of this game the intensity it deserved, while credit must also go to both keepers. Distillery had Billy Brennan to thank for keeping them firmly in contention - the former UCD goalkeeper was switched on and sharp to almost every threat.

Shane McCabe’s 34 minute diving header prompted a great save while David Miskelly also was on goal-guarding form. His double-save on 71 minutes when attacked by a smashing Davidson strike and a follow up at the far post from Gary Liggett was fantastic.

Both sides looked like worthy competition for a final of this magnitude, Distillery showing their experience, competence and mesmerising finishing and Portadown in terms of consistent quality; Ross Redman, Jordan Baker and fans’ favourite Kevin Braniff were truly in-form.

“It’s very disappointing to lose,” said Ports boss Ronnie McFall. “I thought they played some really excellent football and if anything I think at times we overplayed. We ought to have put the ball into the box earlier and turned that pressure into goals. Particularly with their second, we could have stopped it. We look to do too much on the ball. I thought the first half was where we dominated but we need to maintain that and needed a second goal, the killer. We would have obviously happy enough to go to extra time.”

Lisburn Distillery: Brennan, McShane, Simpson, Kilmartin, G. Thompson, Ferguson, Browne, Cooling, Hunter, Liggett, Callaghan subs Matthews (not used), Patton (not used), Davidson(replaced Thompson 46), Cushley (replaced Browne 46), Devlin (not used)

Portadown: Miskelly, Redman, Breen, Clarke, Tipton, Braniff, Mouncey, Baker, O'Hara, McCabe, Gartland subs Armstrong (not used), Lecky (replaced Tipton 80), Boyle (replaced Baker 76), Craig, (replaced Clarke 89), Mackle (not used)

Referee: Mark Courtney (Dungannon)

By Laure James at Mourneview Park

Tags:  Lisburn Distillery  Portadown